Wednesday, July 27, 2005

ASEAN sets up development fund to bridge economic gap between members

VIENTIANE : Southeast Asian foreign ministers agreed on Tuesday to set up an ASEAN Development Fund aimed at narrowing the economic and development gap among its 10 members.

Each country in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) group would contribute an initial US$1 million to the fund, according to an agreement signed by the foreign ministers meeting in Laos.

Malaysia, which has taken over the rotating chairmanship of ASEAN from Laos, would add an additional US$500,000 on top of its contribution, Foreign Minister Syed Hamid Albar said.

The fund would be used to finance programmes aimed at reducing a considerable development gap between its bigger and older members the Philippines, Malaysia, Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore and newer members Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos and Myanmar.

It would serve as a "common pool of financial resources" to support a six-year plan signed during an ASEAN leaders' summit in December which focuses on deepening regional integration as it moves towards its goal of a single market by 2020.

Other public or private entities were welcome to contribute to the fund
which would be managed by the ASEAN Secretariat.

Brunei is the 10th member of ASEAN. -

Cambodia to join OPCW

BRUSSELS- Cambodia is to join the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) next month, making it the 170th member state of the OPCW, the OPCW announced on Monday.

"The Kingdom of Cambodia deposited its instrument of ratification of the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) with the United Nations Secretary-General on 19 July 2005 and will become the 170th State Party to the Convention and a Member State of the OPCW on 18 August 2005," said an OPCW press release sent to Xinhua on Monday.

According to the CWC rules, thirty days after the deposit of its instrument of ratification, an applicant country will become a full member state of the OPCW.

"Cambodia is the ninth member of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) to join the Convention. Cambodia`s ratification brings Asia closer to universal membership as only a few States in Asia remain outside the jurisdiction of the Convention," said the OPCW.

The CWC is an international, multilateral disarmament treaty which bans the development, production, stockpiling, transfer and use of chemical weapons.

The States Parties to the CWC are obligated to declare any chemical weapons-related activities, to secure and destroy any stockpiles of chemical weapons within the stipulated deadlines, as well as to inactivate and eliminate any chemical weapons production capacity within their jurisdiction.

The CWC entered into force in 1997 and mandated the OPCW to eliminate chemical weapons forever. The OPCW verifies the irreversible destruction of declared chemical weapons stockpiles, as well as the elimination of all declared chemical weapons production facilities.